Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Meets Turkish Leader

Photo released by the Turkish President’s office

The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew met the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, early on Wednesday afternoon, at the presidential mansion in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

Erdogan’s office issued a photo from the meeting, which was also attended by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, with no further information on what it has been discussed.

A report by the Athens News Agency says that two men discussed matters relating to the patriarchate and the Greek community in Turkey.

The atmosphere at the meeting was described as very good, says the report, with Erdogan showing great interest in the problems of the Patriarchate and the community.

Patriarch Bartholomew thanked Erdogan for all he has done to date to resolve issues relating to the Greek community, while raising issues that are still pending, during their talks and in writing.

It is not clear whether Bartholomew raised the issue of the two Greek soldiers held in a maximum security prison in Turkey for almost two months.

Sgt Dimitris Kouklatzis, aged 27, and Lt Angelos Mitretodis, 25, were arrested after being found in a “forbidden military zone” by Turkish authorities in early March. They have been detained in a high-security jail pending trial in the border town of Edirne ever since.

On Sunday, Erdogan, proposed that two Greek soldiers be exchanged for eight Turkish officers who have sought asylum in Greece.

Erdogan’s proposal was dismissed by Athens as unacceptable.